Wine-Knows 2020 winery lunch...salmon screams for Pinot Noir!
The Kiwis (as the New Zealanders refer to themselves), long known for their explosive Sauv Blancs, have another blockbuster for wine lovers. Pinot Noir, now the country’s second most planted variety, is quickly moving to the forefront as New Zealand is establishing an international reputation for producing world-class Pinots.
Forty years ago, the finicky Pinot grape was not even on New Zealand’s wine radar screen. The varietal grows in cooler climates such as France’s Burgundy, California’s Central coast, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This South Pacific island nation’s maritime climate was a perfect match in many ways. Oh, yes, and it didn’t hurt that the soils were found to be similar to Burgundy, the pinnacle for the Pinot cult.
In addition to weather and soil, the Kiwis have another advantage with Pinot Noir. An important part of New Zealand’s terroir is its intense light. This is due to a hole in the earth’s ozone layer near New Zealand which permits stronger ultraviolet rays. While this is problematic for human skin, it creates lusciously ripened grapes. Unlike Burgundy, where capricious Pinot does not often ripen adequately, New Zealand’s sunlight guarantees consistency.
Pinot Noir is currently grown in several wine districts in New Zealand, however, the grape’s first success was in Martinborough---located just outside of the country’s capitol, Wellington, on the north island. The south island’s Central Otago wine region (home to the world’s farthest southern vineyards) is also turning out some fabulous Pinots.
Wines made from Pinot Noir are typically higher in price than other varietals. Here are three highly rated Kiwi Pinots that offer amazing value for their $30 price tag:
1. Mount Brown
2. Wild South
3. Jackson’s Vintage Widow
Ratcheting up to the $50-60 range, here are some Kiwi Pinots that may cause you to re-think Burgundy:
1. Ata Ranghi
2. Fromm Clayvin
3. Felton Road Calvert